Ethnic and religious differences in the attitudes of people towards being 'British'

Saffron I Karlsen, James Y Nazroo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
623 Downloads (Pure)


Negative rhetoric and policy regarding Muslims has been justified according to a perceived lack of integration into British society. However, this lack of integration has not been empirically established and remains poorly described. This paper explores whether there are variations in levels of ‘Britishness’ and perceptions of the compatibility between Britishness and other cultural/religious identities among different minoritized groups in England and Wales. It examines the impact of racialization and other forms of social and economic exclusion on ideas of Britishness, focusing on similarities and differences in a sense of access to forms of Britishness among migrant groups. Descriptive and multivariate analyses of Citizenship Survey data showed that 90 per cent of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians felt part of Britain. Muslims were more likely than Caribbean Christians to report a strong British identification and (along with Hindus and Sikhs) to recognize potential compatibility between this and other aspects of national identity. The strength of this feeling was associated with age, gender, generation and, importantly, risk of racist victimization. Greater recognition must be given to the impact of social exclusion on the ability of ethnic and religious minority groups to feel part of British society, and also to the strong claim to Britishness made by Muslim people in England.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-781
Number of pages23
JournalSociological Review
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2015


  • Britishness
  • Muslim
  • ethnicity
  • religion
  • racialization
  • exclusion
  • identity
  • generation
  • migration
  • racism

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